Beowulf and Grendel Essay

Submitted By rachell1112
Words: 1328
Pages: 6

The various adaptations of the Beowulf legend provide a form of courageousness. The following are sources concerning the Beowulf myth: Grendel, a novel by John Gardner, and Beowulf and Grendel, a film directed by Sturla Gunnarson. These pieces contain acts of genuine bravery, but they also depict instances where lack of courage is shown. The prevalence of bravery juxtaposed with cowardice within the novel and the film suggests that acts of heroism are situational and dependent upon one’s exhibited characteristics at any given occasion.
Both the novel and the film represent at least one character as having traits compatible to heroism. In the novel, Queen Wealtheow possesses bravery in a situation where she had very little to be optimistic about. She was the sister of Hygmod, young king of nearby Helmings. When the powerful Hrothgar became a probable threat, the young king resorted to giving Wealtheow to the Scydlings as a peace offering. Upon witnessing the donation of Wealtheow to Hrothgar, Grendel observed, “She looked up at Hrothgar’s beard, not his eyes, afraid of him. ‘My lord,’ she said” (101). Wealtheow was obviously frightened to leave her family by means of an unfamiliar king. She knew that she would very rarely ever get to see her family again, but she also knew that her cooperation would result in the safety of her tribe. Also, she would have been intimidated due to the infamous presence of Grendel near Hrothgar’s meadhall. It can be presumed that she knew about Grendel because news of his existence and mayhem had even traveled across sea to Geetland. With all of these fears combined, it would have been understandable if Wealtheow would have adamantly refused to be a peace offering. However, she accepts the role and shows a tremendous amount of bravery. Wealtheow’s actions suggest that when someone is put in a situation that significantly helps other individuals; they are more likely to act with courage. She simply brings a sense of hope to the story because of the way she reacted to her situation. Another character displaying honorable attributes would be the film’s representation of Beowulf, a heroic figure who arrives in Daneland with the goal of killing Grendel. However, Beowulf does not exactly fit the mold of a ruthless assassin. He possesses traits that could be categorized as intelligent valor. He does not simply arrive in Daneland and foolishly hunt down Grendel. Beowulf inquires into exactly why Grendel acts the way he does in what one could call a background check. He does this by asking the local people such as Hrothgar and Selma what they know about Grendel. Hrothgar gives him very little valuable information, but Selma provides Beowulf with some useful information. Ultimately, Grendel dies before Beowulf can compile all of the facts. He possesses traits pertaining to bravery that can often be overlooked or forgotten. He is analytical, curious, and patient. Beowulf’s circumvent of naive and irrational thinking is a perfect example of bravery utilized to the maximum. His attentive investigation into Grendel’s past is an excellent way to not only inform the audience about Grendel, but to emphasize key traits. Both Queen Wealtheow and Beowulf embody heroism in their respected conduct in the situations that they find themselves in.
On the contrary, some characters in the novel and film demonstrate a lack of or questionable bravery. The novel shows Unferth as having some qualities that make it difficult to call him a hero. At one point, Unferth tries to fight Grendel as the monster entered the meadhall. Grendel laughs hysterically at Unferth’s foolish actions. Grendel ends up verbally battling Unferth and injuring Unferth by launching apples at him. Unferth, out of humiliated anger, follows Grendel to his cave. Three days later, Unferth shows up to fight Grendel again. Ultimately, Grendel waits for Unferth to fall asleep before taking him back to his home. Unferth seems to be brave, but some of his…